A few times in class we have reviewed that, according to the science of yoga, all foods (just like everything else in this material world) contain some mixture of the three Gunas: Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas. And we’ve reviewed that the foods that are most conducive to yoga practice are Sattvic foods.
Sattvic foods are vegetarian, and are generally mild (not too spicy, sour, or salty), fresh, and not overcooked.
Eating a Sattvic diet will help your yoga practice, because our bodies and minds are actually made out of the food we eat. If we ingest Sattvic foods, our body and mind become more healthy, serene, balanced, focused and strong.
Talking about diet is so complicated and messy, and our attachments to food and specific kinds of foods are totally valid and very strong. You will get no judgement from me. I also want to acknowledge that having access and options to certain foods is also a privilege. I have money to buy food, and a car that I can drive to get the foods I want. I can eat fresh food, because I can drive that car to the store once a week or more.
I do believe that it can be very affordable to eat a sattvic diet, though. Rice, beans, lentils, grains can be very affordable. Also, the more I eat like this, the less fun it is to go out to eat, because restaurants don’t usually make this kind of food. So, I save a lot of money that way, too!
If you’re considering a more Sattvic diet, I recommend buying dry beans and grains such as: chick peas, mung beans, green lentils, red lentils, black beans, barley, buckwheat, oats, millet, basmati & jasmine rice. And having spices around such as: cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, garam masala. I also like to have: fresh ginger, cilantro, fruits of all kinds (avocado, oranges, lemons, limes, papaya, apples, pineapple, grapefruit, watermelon, mangos, fresh figs, pears, etc), veggies (potatoes, beets, celery, carrots, spinach, zucchini, squashes, cucumbers, kale, frozen peas), and raw honey. Nuts are also good: almonds, peanuts, etc (if you soak them overnight, they sprout, and are extra healthy this way!) Usually I can make a pretty delicious meal out of some combination of these ingredients. Jackfruit tacos have become a favorite of mine, so I also get those from Li Ming sometimes. Fresh young coconuts are also super delicious, but they can be a little expensive.
(I bought all these beans and lentils for under $30, and they will definitely last our two person family about a month!)
On a personal note, moving toward a more sattvic diet continues to be a process for me, and I’ve done different things over the years. I am not an expert, and it’s not something that has come easily to me, personally. But I can share my own experience with you. Maybe it will be different for you!
Through trying different approaches, I’ve decided the best one for me at this point is to just give up things permanently, as I am ready. I’d rather completely let go of one thing at a time than try to go for some shorter period of time, and then just go back to doing it again later because I didn’t really believe in it to begin with (or didn’t believe yet, at that time). I will say that that a temporary strict approach did give me the first-hand experience that a sattvic diet really does produce results! I just wasn’t able to keep it up like that, which I think is pretty common and also understandable.
I have seen the effectiveness of the “giving things up permanently one at a time” approach with two things in my life: meat and alcohol. These are two things that I gave up not just for discipline or even because it is “correct” for a yogic or sattvic diet. But because I believed in it and there was additional meaning there for me, personally.
Also, just to clarify, when I say “permanently,” I don’t claim to have a crystal ball to look into the future. If the apocalypse comes and all there is to eat is meat and alcohol, I don’t claim to know what I will do. But generally speaking, I think of it as a “permanent change. And I think that’s helpful! But of course, to each their own. ❤